Acts of Resistance

Museum of Vancouver

The Museum of Vancouver has been nominated for a 2020 BCMA Outstanding Achievement Award, Excellence in Exhibitions Award for their Exhibit “Acts of Resistance,” which dramatically showcases the link between art, land stewardship and Indigenous activism on the Northwest Coast.

MOV Curator of Indigenous Collections and Engagement, Dr. Sharon Fortney worked with representatives of Greenpeace Canada and Kwekwecnewtxw: Protect the Inlet to feature protest art designed by seven Indigenous activists as part of an impressive aerial blockade launched in July of 2018. This action protested the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project (TMX), by dramatically preventing an oil tanker from leaving Burrard Inlet for 38 hours, while raising public awareness of environmental concerns about a proposed seven-fold increase to tanker traffic in the Inlet. Although the exhibition focuses on a specific action and event, the longstanding efforts of BC First Nations to voice stewardship concerns relating to the lands and waters of their traditional territories is recognized in this project. A theme of the exhibition is that displays of culture have always been an essential element of such efforts.

Acts of Resistance culminated in a 2000-sq foot temporary exhibition (February – July 2020) showcasing seven, 40-ft long, protest banners that speak to the obligation felt by Indigenous community members to care for the lands and waters of their traditional territories, thereby ensuring a legacy for future generations. The issues that the exhibition presents are timely and points to the ongoing and critical role of Indigenous peoples in protecting the environment: Acts of Resistance opened one day after the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed challenges filed by four First Nations (including two of Vancouver’s host nations) regarding a failure to properly consult with communities in the pathway of this expansion project. It also coincided with RCMP efforts to dismantle blockades in Wet’suwet’en territory, an act that sparked solidarity actions from Indigenous peoples and environmental activists across the nation.

Acts of Resistance is a reconciliation effort of the Museum of Vancouver as it provides a platform for contemporary Indigenous community members to speak to issues that are important to them and relevant in their daily lives.